International Olympics Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has commended Nigeria for completing the Association of National Olympics Committee Africa (ANOCA) Secretariat saying the country has now become a “capital of sports in Africa”.
Bach said Nigeria has set a milestone for sports development across the continent and laid the foundations of “perfect conditions” for young athletes to actualise their potential.
Bach was on a two-day tour of Nigeria that saw him tour parts the newly restored Moshood Abiola Stadium and culminated in him commissioning the Association of National Olympics Committee Africa (ANOCA) Secretariat after 10 years of stop-start construction work.
Accompanied by the Minister of Youth and Sports Sunday Dare, the IOC president took a tour of the main bowl of the National Stadium, the cycling arena and the stadium’s swimming pool and expressed delight at the restoration of the edifice.
“I am happy that the stadium is clean and coming back to use. I also commend you on the organisation here. Everything appears organised. It is commendable,” Bach commented.
The delegation then proceeded to commission the Association of National Olympics Committee Africa (ANOCA) Secretariat after 10 years of its foundation laying.
Dare who spoke before the commissioning said the event was of huge significance not just for sports development in Nigeria but the entire African continent and informed why the government ensured the completion of the project after a decade of half-hearted attempts.
“The event of today is a landmark in the development of sports on the continent of Africa. It is a day that the entire black race should be proud of. And as Nigerians, we are proud to be a major contributor to the actualization of this day.
“Aside the obvious fact of the commissioning of the building that would from today be the administrative and technical hub of sports administration on the continent, we also have in our midst, the leaders of the world governing body for sports, ably led by the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach,” Dare said.
The Minister explained that the journey started some 13 years ago when Nigeria alongside six other African countries bided to host the Headquarters of ANOCA and become the Olympic capital of Africa, after which Nigeria was selected through a rigorous process.
In his remarks, the IOC President Thomas Bach said Nigeria has positioned itself as the sports capital of Africa and rewritten the history of sports on the continent.
“Today ANOCA and sport in Africa and Nigeria, you are writing sports history. With the inauguration of this magnificent headquarters here, you are establishing Abuja as the capital of sports in Africa. You are setting a milestone for the development of sports all over Africa. You are also creating perfect conditions to work better for the youth and the athletes from your young and potential continent of Africa.”
“I am honoured to be able to share this historic moment together with the entire Olympics family in Africa. When it comes to sports, this new building is an inspiration, a motivation for the unity of sports in Africa and to unite in the effort to support your athletes and make them become even more successful for the upcoming Olympic games Tokyo 2020,” Bach said.
“You also have one reason more at least to look into the future with great confidence and optimism in the upcoming Youth Olympics Games 2022 in Africa.
“I congratulate you all on the great achievements of sports in here in Nigeria and Abuja, the government of Nigeria, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development and the Minister of the FCT and I congratulate all of you because you are embodying the Olympic spirit of determination of excellence, friendship, respect.”